Using one or more custom designed fonts in your label designs is a great way to define your brand. There are many fine design firms such as Chank! that will design you a truly one-of-a-kind font. If you want to get really personal, you can even have a design shop such as Font Garden create a high quality font based on a sample of your handwriting. However, I realize that many brands lack the time and money needed to have a copyrighted font created for them. If you find yourself in this situation, you might want to consider purchasing one or more designer fonts. Purchasing a designer font instead of having one created for you is kind of like purchasing an Armani off the rack instead of having Giorgio design a dress or suit just for you. The font may not fit your brand like a glove and a few other companies may use it in their label designs as well, but the quality will be excellent and you won't see your designer font on every other competitor's labels ... unlike the fonts that ship with your design software. Here are just two of many fine websites selling designer fonts that could help set your label designs apart from the Arial and Times New Roman crowd. MyFonts - Self-described as the "largest collection of fonts ever assembled for on-line delivery," MyFonts offers 62,528 designer fonts for both Mac and PC platforms. Purchase fonts a la carte or in packages - the choice is yours. MyFonts also happens to be the creator of WhatTheFont, a free online resource for identifying mystery fonts. Fonts.com - 164,405 designer fonts to choose from, with value packages of font families available for as little as $75. All fonts are available for both Mac and PC platforms, and advanced searching capabilities make it easy to hunt down the perfect fonts for your label and sticker designs. If you have more more time than money and are willing to do some digging, you might be able to find a designer font that fits your style without paying a penny. Many of the online font shops mentioned above have a "free" section of downloadable. You may also want to browse free font sites such as dafont.com where font designers upload fonts they wish to popularize via free distribution. When considering using any free font for branding purposes, you should find out if that font is licensed for commercial use.
When the new Ikea catalog arrived in mailboxes around the world last week, many customers of the Swedish furniture company known for good design at low prices were surprised to see a new typeface throughout the catalog. People were actually quite upset that the company had switched from the elegant Futura, the font it had used in its catalogs for half a century, to the more humble and common font Verdana. In fact, when Romanian design consultant Marius Ursache started an online petition to get Ikea to change its mind on August 26, he spurred a global backlash against Ikea. That night, there were more tweets decrying the font change than there were about recently deceased US Senator Ted Kennedy on the popular microblogging service Twitter. Why, after all these years, did Ikea drop the beloved Futura font? According to BusinessWeek, an Ikea representative told Swedish design magazine Cap & Design the switch to Verdana will allow the company to use a uniform font in all countries and to use the same font for both print and Web applications. There are actually very few standard fonts that look as good on a paper as they do on a computer screen. In fact, some experts maintain that there is no such thing and that different fonts should always be used for print than those used for the Web. That said, if you must use the same font for both print and Web, Verdana is not a bad choice. Despite the outcry against Ikea's adoption of it, Verdana is one of two fonts Microsoft designed especially for both print and Web use. (Georgia is the other font, a good replacement for Times New Roman that is legible as small as 9 points.) Both fonts are widely distributed free of charge. If you are going to choose seperate fonts for Web and print applications, then you have a much greater choice of fonts to choose from when selecting one or two for your company branded designs than just Verdana and Georgia. To get you started, here is a list of Web-safe font families that will display properly across most Internet browsers:
- Palatino Linotype
- Century Gothic
- Lucinda Sans Unicode
- Arial Black
- Times New Roman
- Arial narrow
- Copperplate Gothic Light
- Lucinda Console
- Gill Sans
- Trebuchet MS
- Courier New
Still having trouble choosing a Web-safe font? Try Font Tester, a free online tool that lets you preview and compare fonts side-by-side with various CSS font styles applied to them. When it comes to choosing a font for print applications, your choice is a bit harder as the variety is so much greater. Here are some beautiful fonts to consider using in print applications only, including your label designs:
- From The Dieline: Top 15 Fonts for Packaging Design
And if you need help identifying fonts, try one or more of these resources:
Have you ever looked at a product on the supermarket shelf and thought to yourself, "that is a cool font." No? Well, maybe you don't look at packaging as closely as I do. Anyway, fonts are an integral part of any product label and learning more about them will give you a better eye for good design.
There is an easy way to find out what font is being used. The popular font site myfonts.com has a new tool called What the Font. The way it works is you upload an image or point the site to a URL and it will tell you the name of the font.
But that doesn't help if you are away from your computer. Now, they have just released an iPhone application for What the Font. I downloaded it recently and have been playing around with it. It is pretty cool. When you launch the application it takes you to the iPhone's camera function where you take a photo of the type you want identified. You draw a box around the appropriate text with your finger and then it will search its database of fonts to come up with a match.
The photo above shows you the application in action. It has just identified some test text I created with the Rockwell font. It was able to easily identify this font giving several different variations. After playing with this application for a while I need to warn you it is certainly not foolproof. A couple of times it identified fonts that were close but not the exact font. Still, it is a useful tool for anyone interested in learning more about fonts and design.
The logo is one of the most important design elements of your product labels. It immediately and clearly associates your products with your company’s brand. Perhaps you are thinking about designing or redesigning a new logo for your company or one of its product lines. If so, I highly recommend that you create your logo in black and white before adding color to it. And if you are hiring a graphic designer to create a logo for you, make sure that they provide you with a black and white version.
Now you may be asking yourself why I would recommend such a thing, being as I work for Lightning Labels. If you are familiar with our company, you probably know that our state-of-the-art digital printing technology enables us to produce custom labels with as many different colors as you can think of for the same price as a single color (or black and white). So why am I recommending that you create a black and white version of your logo upfront?
Because although you will most likely use a color logo for your product label designs, website, and printed marketing materials, there is going to come a time when your logo will be reproduced in black and white or a single color, whether or not you want it to be:
- A potential customer will open your email on their mobile phone in black and white, or look up your website on a monochrome screen.
- Your company will be bestowed a great honor, and the awards committee will present you with a huge trophy engraved with the company logo.
- You will realize that printing in-house documents in color is waste of money.
- You will need to send a fax. (Yes, they still exist.)
- You will want to advertise in a publication that only offers black and white.
- You will want to advertise in a publication that offers color ads but purchase black and white ones to save money.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea by now.
If you, like many of our customers, do your own graphic design work, creating your logo in black and white first will allow you focus on the “bones” of the design, especially its typography. This will ensure that your logo will work with a greater number of different colors when you do add color to it or tweak its graphic elements. And a logo that works equally well in black and white is the mark of a quality logo. Think Apple. IBM. Volkswagen. Google.
So they next time your company designs a new logo or revamps an existing one, consider creating a black and white version first, and adding color at the end of the design process. It will at least save you a major headache down the road, and might end up saving you a lot of money as well.
Here is an interesting post from last year about mixing fonts from the Webdesigner Depot blog. The focus of the article is making two fonts work with logos but the same principles apply to any design project, including product labels. What I like about this article is that the author gives many examples of logos with multiple fonts and explains why some work and others don't. The one point to keep in mind when designing product labels is that you will likely have a font that is part of your logo so you want to make sure the fonts you use in the rest of the label design work with the font in your logo. If you are struggling with fonts then the best idea is to hire a professional designer. As I have said on this blog many times, a well designed product label can go a long way towards helping ensure the success of your product. Unless you have a special talent in this area it is better to hire a professional. Hat tip to J.D. Iles from the Signs Never Sleep blog for sharing this information.
For years I never understood the difference between raster and vector image files. For some reason I found the concept difficult to understand and I imagine there are others out there in the same boat. So here is a simple explanation of these two kinds of files. Let''s start with an example. Look at the two M's above. These are both 8 point Verdana font, or at least they started out that way. I created the M on the left in Photoshop and the M on the right in Illustrator. I then increased the size of both these M's by 1000%. You can see that the M on the right maintained its smooth lines and still looks good, whereas the M on the left has lost its sharp lines and details and looks fuzzy. The M on the left is a raster image (also called bitmap image). A raster image represents an image as bits of information that translate into pixels on the screen. Because these pixels are very small a raster image normally appears as a smooth image, you only notice the pixels when you try and magnify the image. If you magnify the image enough though, as I did with the M here, you lose the sharp lines and details. A vector image takes a completely different approach. It uses a mathematical formula to define curves and lines which enables you to scale an image much larger or smaller without losing anything in image quality. As you can see the M I created in Illustrator lost nothing when it was magnified by 1000%, so for this reason vector-based images are always best when working with text. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about creating product labels in Photoshop. Photoshop is an excellent tool for creating art but there is one caveat that we tell our customers. Once you are ready to add text to your label import the design into Illustrator and add the text there. This will ensure your text always looks crisp and sharp even for very small type. With our high resolution digital label printing press you can really tell the difference between text created in Photoshop and text created in Illustrator. A rule of thumb is any text smaller than 14 point do not create in Photoshop; Illustrator will give you a much better result. If you don''t have Illustrator or are worried about the quality of your text, our in-house graphic designer will be happy to help you.
Today, there must be literally millions of fonts in existence. Heck, anyone can create their own font quite easily so the number probably keeps increasing every day. Sometimes you might be browsing online or reading through a magazine and you come across a font that you really like. How do you know what font that is? Anyone involved in graphic design has to deal with unknown fonts on a regular basis. Luckily there are plenty of tools to help you identify unusual fonts. This post features seven such tools. These tools work well with most commercially available fonts and can help you identify fonts that are close to your selected font even if they can't identify it. Thanks to Kathy at Saponifier for the tip. For the record the graphic above is not a real font - it is just an arrangement of M&M's.
Adam over at the PrintCEO blog yesterday pointed out a print design blog that provides a list of the top five worst fonts. I have provided the list below in graphical form so you can see the fonts they are talking about. Before going any further, I need to point out the obvious - that this is a totally subjective list, just one print designer's opinion. Having said that I think these fonts are all overused today. PCs and Macs both come with a large variety of free fonts and there are thousands of inexpensive fonts at places like fonts.com and Font Shop. So there is no reason to use the same fonts that everyone else is using. There is one point this designer makes that I completely agree with. Apart from Times New Roman, these fonts are not very easy to read, so they should be used sparingly. And if you want to draw attention to your label finding an unusual and rare font is an inexpensive way to add impact to your labels. Just make sure it is easy to read.